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Covid-19 Update Murphy Insurance Agency

As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts prepares for a phased reopening beginning on Monday, May 18th, we want to inform you there will be no immediate changes to the existing status of Murphy Insurance Agency’s services or hours.

Our team members will continue to be available to assist you by phone and email Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 4:30PM and on Saturday, 8:30AM – 12:00PM.  All Murphy Insurance office locations will remain closed to visitors until further notice.

We care deeply about the health and safety of our customers, team members, and the community-at-large.  With insurance being identified as an essential business, Murphy Insurance has remained open during this stay-at-home period with members of our staff social distancing at our offices or working remotely.  We are pleased that most needs have been able to be met through online, email, fax, postal mail, and telephone communications; however, we recognize that some needs will require in-person interactions as we return to a greater level of normalcy moving forward.  The Agency is working to establish plans to safely reopen our offices to provide in-person service, and we will keep you informed via updates.

We highly encourage you to utilize our alternative methods to conduct your insurance business that do not require coming inside an office location:

dfmurphy.com - Our website is a great tool to help you connect with us and a source of information.

Resources section - links to insurance companies and other sites, “pay my bill” information, forms to contact us and request quotes, request Certificates of Insurance, report a claim, and more.

Get a Quote – Get the quote process started online at any time of day. For Auto Insurance, you can get an instant quick quote and we will follow up with you.

Blog – Filled with helpful information and updates on a variety of insurance related topics.
 

e-signature via DocuSign – We offer the option of having you electronically sign many of our personal insurance forms using DocuSign, and are working diligently to provide this option for commercial insurance forms in the near future. 
 

EFT, Online & Telephone Payments –  Our team can help you set up automatic Electronic Funds Transfer payments from your bank account to pay your premium.  Also, insurance carriers all have helpful websites that offer a variety of features including making payments online and instructions for paying by telephone.

Any time you need assistance, our team is ready to help.  Simply send a message via our contact us form, email assistance@dfmurphy.com or call 800-222-8711 for assistance. Stay safe and be well.

Family, Home, Career Status Should Be Reflected In Your Policy Coverage

Our insurance needs change as circumstances in our lives change, which is why we recommend doing an annual insurance review. When you’re reviewing your insurance coverage, these ten questions can help you figure out whether you may need to talk to your insurance professional about making a change to your coverage.

questions1. Have you gotten married or divorced?

If you have gotten married, you may qualify for a discount on your auto insurance. Couples may bring two cars into the relationship and two different auto insurance companies, so take the opportunity to review your existing coverage and see which company offers the best combination of price and service.

If you are merging two households, you may need to update your homeowners insurance. And you may want to consider increasing your insurance for any new valuables received, such as wedding gifts, and for jewelry, such as wedding and engagement rings.

After getting married, it is important to review your life insurance needs. If one spouse is not working, he or she might be dependent on the working spouse’s income; if so, reviewing life and disability insurance coverage is prudent. The spouse who is not working outside the home should also consider having a separate life insurance policy because, in the event of premature death, the services he or she provides for the household would need to be replaced, and that could prove costly to the surviving spouse. Moreover, even if both spouses are working, couples often make financial commitments based on both incomes so the loss of one spouse’s income due to death or disability could be financially devastating without adequate insurance.

In the other hand, if you got divorced over the past year, you will probably no longer be sharing a car with your former spouse and have likely moved to a different residence. If this is the case, you should inform your insurer as you will need to set up separate auto and homeowners policies.

2. Have you had a baby?

If you have recently added a child to your family, whether by birth or adoption, it is important to review your life insurance and disability income protection.

If you are planning for your life insurance to match your survivors’ expenses after your death, the new child will no doubt add to those expenses, requiring more life insurance to keep your family secure. If you plan to save for your child's college education, life insurance can assure completion of that plan. And if you keep your current life insurance policy, don’t forget to update the beneficiary designations to include the new child.

3. Did your teenager get a drivers license?

It is generally cheaper to add your teenagers to your auto insurance policy than for them to purchase their own. If they are going to be driving their own car, consider insuring it with your company so you can get a multi-car discount. And choose the car carefully—the type of car a young person drives can dramatically affect the price of insurance. You and your teens should choose a car that is easy to drive and would offer protection in the event of a crash.

Also, encourage your kids to get good grades and to take a driver training course. Most companies will give discounts for getting at least a “B” average in school and for taking recognized driving courses.

If your teenagers move at least 100 miles from home—for example, to go to college—you can get a discount for the time they are not around to drive the car (assuming they leave the car at home). 

4. Have you switched jobs or experienced a significant change in your income?

If you had life and disability insurance through your former employer, and your new employer does not provide equivalent protection, you can replace the “lost” coverage with individual policies.

In the case of an income increase, you may have taken on additional financial commitments that your survivors will depend on. Make sure to review your life and disability insurance to ensure it is adequate to maintain those commitments.

If your income decreased, you may want to cut your life insurance premiums. Term life insurance is a good option, as the premium rates are very reasonable. And if you already have two or more policies you might be able to replace both with a single policy at a lower rate because you may reach a “milestone” amount of insurance. (For example, at many life insurance companies, $500,000 of insurance costs less than $450,000 because of the milestone discount.) But don’t drop existing life insurance until after you have a new policy in place.

5. Have you done extensive renovations on your home?

If you have made major improvements to your home, such as adding a new room, enclosing a porch or expanding a kitchen or bathroom, you risk being underinsured if you don’t report the changes to your insurance company. An increase in the value of the structure of the home may require an increase to your homeowners insurance coverage limits.

And don’t overlook new structures outside of your home. If you built a gazebo, a new shed for your tools or installed a pool or hot tub, you should speak to your insurance professional.

If, as part of a renovation, you purchase furniture, exercise equipment or electronics, you may need to increase the amount of insurance you have on your personal possessions. Keep receipts and add any new items to your home inventory. To create a personal home inventory, try the I.I.I.’s free Know Your Stuff® Home Inventory Tool.

6. Have you decided to buy a second home?

If you are searching for a vacation home or a second home you might retire to, make sure you research the availability and cost of homeowners insurance before you commit to the purchase.

The very factors that make a vacation home seem ideal, whether it is a waterfront property or a mountain retreat, can often introduce risks that make it costly and difficult to insure, such as proximity to the coast and the likelihood that it will be vacant for long periods of time.

In the event you have already bought a vacation home, don’t skimp on the insurance. The risk of theft or disaster is just as significant, if not more so, in a second home as in your primary residence.

If your new property is close to the water, be sure to ask about flood insurance. Damage to your home or belongings resulting from flood is not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as some private insurers, and is generally sold though private agents and brokers. You can ask your insurance professional whether your home is at risk for flood, or enter your address on the NFIP website to find out whether your home is in a flood zone. If you have a very valuable home, some homeowners insurers offer excess flood coverage over and above that provided by the NFIP policies.

7. Have you acquired any new valuables such as jewelry, electronic equipment, fine art, antiques?

A standard homeowners policy offers only limited coverage for highly valuable items. If you have made purchases or received gifts that exceed these limits, you should consider supplementing your policy with a floater or endorsement, a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and covers them for perils not included in your policy, such as accidental loss. Before purchasing a floater, the items covered must be professionally appraised. Keep receipts and add the new items to your home inventory.

8. Have you signed a lease on a house or apartment?

If you are renting a home, your landlord is responsible for insuring the structure of the building, but not for insuring your possessions—that is up to you. If you want to be covered against losses from theft and catastrophes such as fire, lightning and windstorm damage, renters insurance is a good investment. Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance includes liability, which covers your responsibility to other people injured at your home, or elsewhere, by you and pays legal defense costs if you are taken to court.

Regardless of whether you are a renter or an owner, you will have the following options when it comes to insuring your possessions:

  • Actual cash value pays to replace your home or possessions minus a deduction for depreciation.
  • Replacement cost pays the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home or replacing your possessions without a deduction for depreciation. Replacement cost coverage is preferrable and typically doesn't cost significantly more especially when you consider the additional value of the coverage.

Think carefully about what your financial position would be in the aftermath of a disaster, and make sure you have the type of policy that is right for you.

9. Have you joined a carpool?

If you are a frequent carpool driver, whether it is to work, or ferrying kids to school and other activities, your liability insurance should reflect the increased risk of additional passengers in the automobile. Check with your insurance professional to make sure your coverage is adequate.

10. Have you retired?

If you commuted regularly to your job, in retirement your mileage has likely plummeted. If so, you should report it to your auto insurer as it could significantly lower the cost of your auto insurance premiums. Furthermore, drivers over the age of 50-55 may get a discount, depending on the insurance company.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Murphy Insurance is open to assist you; however, our office locations are closed to all visitors effective March 16 until further notice.

corona virus noticeWe have continued to monitor the news and direction from the CDC and other government officials regarding COVID-19.  Based on guidance from Governor Baker, and an abundance of caution and care for our customers and team, we have decided to close our offices to all visitors until further notice as a precautionary, safeguarding measure. HOWEVER, Murphy Insurance remains open to assist you by email, online and by phone. We will continue to work diligently to minimize disruptions and address your needs.  Please contact your Murphy Insurance representative for assistance or call us at 800-222-8711 or email assistance@dfmurphy.com.

Related Precautionary Measures

With our offices closing to the public, this necessitates two other temporary changes:

Registry of Motor Vehicles Courier & EVR Service Discontinued – We must temporarily suspend our RMV services. We will continue to provide you, by email or postal mail, the necessary paperwork and guidance so that you may go the registry.

Cash Payments Discontinued – With the closure of our offices to public visitors, we are unable to accept cash payments. Please contact us to discuss payment options if you need assistance.

Thank you for your patience.  Visit dfmurphy.com for updates.

Thank you for your patience as we all work together during this time to safeguard ourselves, our families, our customers, our coworkers, and our neighbors.  Please visit our website, dfmurphy.com, for additional updates. The COVID-19 situation is continually changing and may require other precautionary measures. We look forward to the resolution of this crisis and resuming business as usual.

Sincerely,

Michael Murphy & Dennis Murphy III

Coronavirus precautions

NOTE:  THIS NOTICE IS NOW SUPERCEDED BY THE NOTICE OF MARCH 15, 2020.

Murphy Insurance Agency has been monitoring the impacts of COVID-19. As the nation works to combat and contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, we are implementing precautionary measures to help protect our customers and staff. 

Coronavirus precautions We do not envision any significant impact to service because we can address needs online via email, by phone, and by mail in most circumstances including starting a new policy and making changes.  Therefore, unless it is absolutely necessary to visit our office, we encourage you to explore other methods of being assisted, which in many instances can save you time. Please contact us for assistance.

Visitors to Murphy Insurance offices

Until further notice, visitors to our offices are requested to observe the following:

COVID-19 infection can lead to the following symptoms:

  • fever              
  • coughing
  • breathing difficulties


Please DO NOT VISIT an office but instead call for assistance with your insurance needs if you:

  • notice symptoms or,
  • have had ANY contact with a suspected OR confirmed case of coronavirus within the past 14 days and/or,
  • have been in a risk area within the past 14 days (China, European countries, Iran, South Korea or other high risk areas)

Please contact us if you have questions.  We hope for the situation to resolve soon, and look forward to resuming usual operations.  

Thank you.

 

 

Every homeowner, renter and college student should have an inventory of their possessions. Just imagine…if you had a fire or burglary, would you be able to remember everything you own and what it cost? Having an inventory can save you time, money and stress if you have to make a claim.

get started…a partial inventory is better than none

Set a time goal. Setting a deadline helps keep you on track.

Break it up into pieces. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do it all at once. Go room by room. Start with your most valuable possessions. 

Get help. Have someone help you take the inventory and review it. 

home inventoryhow to tips 

create a list

Find a method that works for you. Using a computer, can make storage, duplication and updates of your inventory easy. If you don’t have a PC, paper works fine, too.  Click below for sample home inventory worksheets:

There is even a new iPhone app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners myHOME Scr.APP.book app. The app will guide you through capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then storing them electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.

what to document

Describe all items noting make, model, where purchased and price paid as applicable. List serial numbers for expensive electronics and major appliances. Count up clothing items by category noting high value items. Keep receipts or appraisals with your list if you have them.

take photos or video

Take pictures and/or video of everything using the time stamp feature if available. Label all photos with descriptions. Digital photos are inexpensive and easy to store. Video is great to give verbal descriptions of items. You may want to do this step first to create a quick inventory.

document high value items  

Items worth over $500 should be described in detail and photographed. High value items may need to be insured separately since home policies have certain personal property limitations.

safely store your inventory

Keep a copy handy for yourself. But most importantly, store your inventory documentation away from your home in a safe deposit box or with some one you trust.  

keep it up to date!

Once you’re done, update your inventory when you make big purchases. It’s a good idea to review your list at least every couple years or when you move. When you’ve completed your inventory, talk with us to be sure that you have enough insurance to cover all your possessions.

You’ve purchased life insurance as part of your estate planning efforts. You deserve to be commended for taking this step, and certainly there is a temptation to file away your policy and forget it.  However, there are a few key things you should do right away after buying life insurance to ensure that in the event of a tragedy, your loved ones will easily be able to receive the money you want them to have.

1. Discuss it

While life insurance is personal, it’s also something to discuss with your loved ones. Certainly use your discretion and judgement, as there may be individuals who you feel should not know. If you have an executor, he/she should be aware of your plans, and often the beneficiary is informed. Your loved ones can’t be protected if they don’t know the protection exists. 

Typically, beneficiaries, who will receive a life insurance payout, are asked in advance as part of your planning process.  If you haven’t previously discussed it, you should tell them now. By being open and clear about your plans, you can provide them with basic information so that they know how they are protected and where to locate documents in the event of your passing.

2. Safely store your documents

Keeping your life insurance and other end of life planning documents safe is critical.  Make copies of the originals in case they are lost or damaged. Be sure to store the original and copies in two or more different place, so if something happens that destroys copies in one location you have a backup elsewhere.

Life InsuranceStoring at home – At home there is always the risk of documents being destroyed by fire or other natural disaster. Keep documents in a fireproof/waterproof safe or chest.  Just be sure your executor has the key or combination in case they need access. But be sure to find a way to store documents off site, too.

Storing in safe deposit box – This is a traditional way that people have chosen to store documents and valuables off site; however, even if your executor has a key and is authorized, a bank may secure the box after your death and require a court order to open it.

Digital storage – Keeping digital copies can be a wise option.  Scan your policy and other documents and keep them on your computer. You may want to back up to an external thumb drive. Online storage resources like Dropbox , Google Drive and others provide offsite storage for important documents in case your computer fails or is damaged.  Just be sure that there is a way for your executor or other trusted person to also know how to access documents.

3. Leave instructions…leave a ‘paper’ trail

Leave written instructions about what to do in the event of your death.  Some refer to this as a “love letter” to your family and loved ones. Clearly outline with detail what steps need to be taken upon your death including:

  • where important paperwork is stored as well as how to access it if passwords or keys are required. 
  • describe the documents and what to do with them including details they will need.
  • provide contact information

If you need help preparing such a document, ask your insurance agent, accountant or legal advisor for assistance. Providing this guidance will help your executor/family to navigate more easily during an emotional time.  

Other future planning issues to think about include having an up to date will, health care proxy, power of attorney and other legal documents.  If you haven’t yet made such preparations and don't already have a provider you trust, please let us know.  We can provide you with a list of options.

4. Don’t just file and forget it

While you may be set for planning for the moment, your life is always changing.  If you change jobs, have a child, move to a new home, enter a different stage of life where kids are grown, etc., your needs can change requiring updates to your life insurance plan.  Issues to keep in mind:

Beneficiary changes – There are a variety of life events that can result in a decision to change your life insurance beneficiary. Your insurance company needs to know your intentions so that the loved one(s) you want to protect receive insurance funds.

Moving – Update your insurance agent with your current contact information.  This is important to ensure that premiums are paid on a timely basis so that your policy doesn’t lapse or if any other issues/opportunities arise.

Policy review  – Every 3 years or so, it’s smart to talk to your agent.  Together you can discuss anything that may have changed and review your needs to ensure your current policy is still the best fit for you. There might be different policy options to consider or perhaps you need to change coverage amounts. If you become disabled or have financial challenges, contact your agent as your policy may have options that can assist you depending upon how it is structured.

Taking the extra time every now and then to consider your plan helps ensure your loved ones stay properly protected. 

 

NEED TO PURCHASE OR REVIEW LIFE INSURANCE PROTECTION?

> Click to request a review or quote

 

diamond ring

Imagine how you’d feel if you looked down and saw the stone missing on your diamond ring? Would it be covered by your homeowners', condo owners' or renters' policy? Unless you have the ring "scheduled" on your policy, the answer is probably NO. 

Most home/condo/renter policies provide coverage only in specific situations (named perils) listed on your policy, i.e. fire, theft, etc.  In the the above situation, the stone simply fell out and was accidentally lost, which is not a covered situation by most standard policies.

Even if you're not worried about accidental loss and are comfortable with having coverage only for the name perils, you also need to consider that home/condo/renter policies generally limit coverage for jewelry losses in a theft situation to $1,000—$3,000 per incident depending on the policy. So, if your house is broken into and your jewelry is stolen you may not have coverage for the full value.

The best way to insure valuable jewelry and other items is to have them "scheduled" on your home/condo/renter policy, which provides broader coverage. Scheduling expands covered loss situations as well as increases your theft dollar amount limit for the listed items.

To diiscuss coverage options for your valuables and obtain a quote, take a moment to complete a scheduled valuables quote request.

 

NOTE: The information provided here is a general description and should not be relied upon as being complete, correct or accurate for every situation. All coverage information is subject to policy provisions, endorsements and may be subject to your meeting underwriting qualifications.

Businesses that are forced to close down following a disaster run the risk of never being able to open their doors again. While there’s no way to lower the risk of a natural disaster like a hurricane, there are critical measures that can be taken to protect your company’s bottom line from nature’s fury. A disaster plan and adequate insurance are keys to recovery.

disaster planningdevelop a disaster recovery plan

No matter how small or large a business, a business impact analysis should be developed to identify what an operation must do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster. Large corporations often hire risk managers to handle this task and some companies hire consultants with expertise in disaster planning and recovery to assist them with their plans. But small businesses can do the analysis and planning on their own.

Key elements of a business recovery plan 

  • Set up an emergency response plan and train employees how to carry it out. Make sure employees know whom to notify about the disaster and what measures to take to preserve life and limit property losses.
  • Write out each step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees in clear and simple language. Practice the procedures set out in the emergency response plan with regular, scheduled drills.
  • Compile a list of important phone numbers and addresses. Make sure you can get in touch with key people after the disaster. The list should include local and state emergency management agencies, major clients, contractors, suppliers, realtors, financial institutions, insurance agents and insurance company claim representatives.
  • Decide on a communications strategy to prevent loss of customers. Post notices outside your premises; contact clients by phone, email or regular mail; place a notice in local newspapers.
  • Consider the things you may need initially during the emergency. Do you need a back-up source of power? Do you have a back-up communications system?
  • Human Resources. Protect employees and customers from injury on the premises. Consider the possible impact a disaster will have on your employees’ ability to return to work and how customers can return to your shop or receive goods or services.
  • Physical Resources. Inspect your business’ plant(s) and assess the impact a disaster would have on facilities. Make sure your plans conform to local building code requirements.
  • Business Community. Even if your business escapes a disaster, there is still a risk that it could suffer significant losses due to the inability of suppliers to deliver goods or services or a reduction in customers. Businesses should communicate with their suppliers and markets (especially if they are selling to a business as a supplier) about their disaster preparedness and recovery plans, so that everyone is prepared.
  • Protect Your Building. If you own the structure that houses your business, integrate disaster protection for the building as well as the contents into your plan. Consider the financial impact if your business shuts down as a result of a disaster. What would be the impact for a day, a week or an entire revenue period?
  • Keep Duplicate Records. Back-up computerized data files regularly and store them off-premises. Keep copies of important records and documents in a safe deposit box and make sure they’re up-to-date.
  • Identify critical business activities and the resources needed to support them. If you cannot afford to shut down your operations, even temporarily, determine what you require to run the business at another location.
  • Find alternative facilities, equipment and supplies, and locate qualified contractors. Consider a reciprocity agreement with another business. Try to get an advance commitment from at least one contractor to respond to your needs.
  • Protect computer systems and data. Data storage firms offer offsite backups of computer data that can be updated regularly via high-speed modem or through the Internet.

review your insurance plan

Make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for the indirect costs of the disaster—the disruption to your business—as well as the cost of repair or rebuilding. Most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage and you may need to buy separate insurance for these perils. Be sure you understand your policy deductibles and limits.

New additions or improvements should also be reflected in your policy. This includes construction improvement to a property and the addition of new equipment.

For a business, the costs of a disaster can extend beyond the physical damage to the premises, equipment, furniture and other business property. There’s the potential loss of income while the premises are unusable. Your disaster recovery should include a detailed review of your insurance policies to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Your policy should include business interruption insurance and extra expense insurance. Even if your basic policy covers expenses and loss of net business income, it may not cover income interruptions due to damage that occurs away from your premises, such as to your key customer or supplier or to your utility company. You can generally buy this additional coverage and add it to your existing policy.

basic commercial insurance to consider

  • Building Coverage provides coverage up to the insured value of the building if it is destroyed or damaged by wind/hail, or another covered cause of loss. This policy does not cover damage caused by a flood or storm surge nor does it cover losses due to earth movement, such as a landslide or earthquake, unless added by endorsement.
  • Business Personal Property provides coverage for contents and business inventory damaged or destroyed by wind/hail, or another covered cause of loss.
  • Tenants Improvements and Betterments provides coverage for fixtures, alterations, installations, or additions made as part of the building that the insured occupies but does not own, which are acquired and made at the insured's expense.
  • Additional Property Coverage provides for items such as fences, pools or awnings at the insured location. Coverage limits vary by type of additional property.
  • Business Income provides coverage for lost revenue and normal operating expenses if the place of business becomes uninhabitable after a loss during the time repairs are being made.
  • Extra Expense provides coverage for the extra expenses incurred, such as temporary relocation or leasing of business equipment, to avoid or minimize the suspension of operations during the time that repairs are being completed to the normal place of business.
  • Ordinance or Law provides coverage to rebuild or repair the building in compliance with the most recent local building codes.

 

For more information:

Source: Insurance Information Institute

hands-free cell phone driving

New Hands-Free law goes into effect February 23

In an effort to reduce distracted driving to prevent accidents, injuries and deaths, the new law, An Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Telephones While Driving bans the hand-held use of cellphones and other electronic devices while driving. The law becomes effective February 23, 2020; therefore, now is the time to prepare and change habits.

Hands-Free Mobile Phone LawWhat drivers can and cannot do

Under the new law:

  • Drivers cannot use a mobile electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode. The law defines “hands-free mode” as using the device without the user holding or touching the device except that a device may require a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate the hands-free mode feature, i.e. devices using Bluetooth technology are allowed provided the use guidelines are met.
  • Drivers cannot look at texts, images or videos displayed on a mobile electronic device, with the exception that a driver may view a map generated by a navigation system or application on a mobile electronic device that is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.
  • Drivers stopped at a light or in traffic on a public way cannot use a hand-held device. Drivers may use a hand-held device if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the public way, i.e. pulled over to the side of the road or in a parking lot.
  • Drivers may use a hand-held device as an exception in response to emergencies including:
    • the vehicle was disabled;
    • medical attention or assistance was required;
    • police intervention, fire department or other emergency services were necessary for the personal safety of the operator or a passenger or to otherwise ensure the safety of the public; or
    • a disabled vehicle or an accident was present on a roadway. 

NOTE: The law does not apply to first responders who are on duty and driving emergency service vehicles.

You can be pulled over just for being on your phone

Unlike the previous no texting while driving law, the new law makes holding a cellphone or electronic device a primary offense, which means you can be pulled over just for being on your phone.

Fines and required education for offenses

Offenders of the law are subject to fines as follows:
  • First offense - $100 fine;
  • Second offense - $250 fine, and;
  • Third or subsequent offenses - $500 fine.

After a second or subsequent offense, operators will be required to complete an educational program on distracted driving prevention.

Your insurance will be impacted for repeat offenses

While a first or second offense is not categorized as a “surchargeable incident” under the statute, a third or subsequent offense will be considered surchargeable and will impact your insurance premiums.

Distracted driving due to the use of electronic devices is a serious problem. While this law addresses distractions due to mobile devices, distractions also exist in the form of driving while drowsy, level of activity inside the car, eating while driving, multi-tasking and other situations. For your safety, we encourage compliance with the new law as well as to reduce and eliminate other distractions so that you can focus on the road and the task of operating your motor vehicle. 

Being alert and avoiding distractions is the best way to avoid accidents…it saves money, it saves headaches, it saves lives.

Read an official copy of H.4203, which is the version of the Hands-Free Use Act that was signed into law.

 

Your renters insurance guide

What to look for when shopping for renters insurance

If you rent a house or apartment and experience a fire or other disaster, your landlord’s insurance will only cover the costs of repairing the building. To financially protect yourself you will need to buy renters or tenants insurance.

renters insurance protections

Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance includes three key types of financial protection: 

  • Coverage for personal possessions
  • Liability protection
  • Additional living expenses (ALE)

The big difference is that renters insurance doesn't cover the building or structure of the apartment—that's the landlord's responsibility.

The following questions will help you choose the right coverage when you are shopping around for renters insurance or discussing your needs with an insurance professional.

Coverage for personal possessions

Coverage for your personal property is a key component of renters coverage, protecting you from theft, fire and a host of other unfortunate events.

1. How much insurance should I buy?

Make sure you have enough insurance to replace all of your personal possessions in the event of a burglary, fire or other covered disaster. The easiest way to determine the value of all your personal possessions is to create a home inventory—a detailed list of all of your belongings along with their estimated value.

2. Should I choose replacement cost or actual cash value coverage?

Actual cash value policies include a deduction for depreciation (that is, the idea that items lose value over time). Replacement cost coverage is pricier but can be well worth the extra expense if your belongings are damaged or destroyed (think about how much you'd get for your TV used versus how much it would actually cost to replace).

3. What disasters are—and are not—covered?

Renters insurance covers you against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and certain types of water damage (such as from a burst pipe or when the tenant upstairs leaves the water running in the bathtub and floods your apartment).

Like standard homeowners policies, most renters insurance policies do not cover floods or earthquakes. Flood coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program and a few private insurers. You can get earthquake insurance as a separate policy or have it added as an endorsement to your renters policy, depending on where you live.

4. What is my deductible, and how does it work?

A deductible is an amount of money you responsible for paying before your insurance coverage. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and a fire destroys $5000 worth of furniture, the first $500 is your responsibility and your insurance company will cover $4500.

Renters insurance deductibles are generally specified as a dollar amount, which can be found on the Declarations page of your policy. In general, the larger the deductible, the lower your insurance premium.

5. What is a “floater” and do I need one?

A floater is a separate policy that provides additional coverage for more costly valuables if they are lost or stolen. If you have expensive jewelry, furs, collectibles, sports equipment or musical instruments, consider adding a floater to your policy to protect against their loss.

6. Am I covered if I am traveling or away from home?

Most renters polices include what is called off-premises coverage, which means belongings that are outside of your home are covered against the same disasters listed in your policy. For example, property stolen from your car or a hotel room while you’re traveling would be protected.

liability protection

7. What is liability insurance?

Renters insurance provides liability protection that covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage done by you, your family members and even your pets. This coverage pays for the cost of defending you in court, up to the limit of your policy.

Your renters policy should also include no-fault medical coverage as part of the liability protection. Medical payments coverage allows someone who gets injured on your property to simply submit his or her medical bills directly to your insurance company so the bills can be paid without resorting to a lawsuit.

8. Do I have enough liability insurance?

Make sure the amount of liability coverage provided by your policy is sufficient to protect your financial and other material assets in the event of a lawsuit.

9. Do I need an umbrella liability policy?

If you need a larger amount of liability protection, consider purchasing a personal umbrella liability policy. An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on the underlying liability coverage provided by your renters or auto policy. It will also cover you for things such as libel and slander.

Additional living expenses

Additional living expenses (ALE) coverage provides coverage if your home is destroyed by an insured disaster and you need to live elsewhere for a time.

10. What does ALE cover?

The additional living expenses portion of your rental insurance policy pays for hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses you incur while your rental home is being repaired or rebuilt. Essentially, it covers the expenses you would not have to incur if you had your usual roof over your head.

11. How much does ALE cover?

Most policies will reimburse you the full difference between your additional living expenses and your normal living expenses; however, there are generally limits as to the total amount the insurer will pay or time limits specifying how long you’re eligible for the ALE payments. Make sure you’re comfortable with the limits of the policy you choose

Multiple policy and other discounts

12. What types of discounts are offered on renters insurance?

Insurance companies often offer discounts on renters insurance if you have another policy with them—for example, car insurance or business insurance.

You may also get a discount if you:

  • Have a security system
  • Use smoke detectors
  • Use deadbolt locks
  • Have good credit
  • Stay with the same insurer
  • Are over 55 years old

Discounts may vary widely by insurance company and by state, so review your options carefully. 

Source: Insurance Information Institute

 

The information provided in these articles are only general descriptions and should not be relied upon as complete, correct or accurate for your specific situation. All coverage informaiton is subject to policy provisions, endorsements and may be  subject to your meeting underwriting qualifications. Murphy Insurance Agency is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other noninsurance professional services. Consult an appropriate professional for advice regarding your own situation.